Although a good work ethic is admirable, overworking yourself with little to no rest has consequences. Many people who work long hours during the day find themselves forced to choose between recreation and sufficient sleep at night. They likely also have to wake up early the next day for work, making the sleep deprivation situation even more dire.

This can create a continuous cycle of late nights and early mornings, leaving little time for rest. If this is you, you have succumbed to the revenge bedtime procrastination curse. Fortunately, understanding this affliction is the first step to beating it.


What is ‘Revenge Bedtime Procrastination’?

Revenge bedtime procrastination is the practice of sacrificing sleep for leisure or further work after a busy day. Often, it is not a deliberate decision, so much as a pattern you fall into by mistake—but it leaves you less energized, less productive, and more sleepy.

The growth of social media has exacerbated the phenomenon; many people spend hours before sleep on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.

In China, employees in many internet companies work six days per week, from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., creating 70-plus-hour workweeks. This schedule is known as the 996 working hour system. It is meant to increase productivity, but generally leads to sleep deprivation and, in reality, leads to reduced productivity among employees.

Because daytime hours are seen as stealing all the free time, people find themselves staying up later as a way of reclaiming their time and enacting “revenge” on the daytime forces.


Behaviors of Bedtime Procrastination

In addition to excessive and unhealthy work culture, one of the key causes of bedtime procrastination is the addictive nature of social media, movies, and gaming. Some common behaviors associated with revenge bedtime procrastination include:

  • Browsing social media endlessly
  • Watching episode after episode of a television show (also known as binge-watching)
  • Pursuing additional work projects late into the night

Most of these behaviors are usually influenced by “the need to finish.” Whether it’s work or a favorite television show, people tend to believe that they can finish a particular task within certain hours before bed. Over time, this becomes habitual, affecting sleep patterns and cycles.

Loneliness and depression are also common causes of bedtime procrastination. They’re emotional barriers that trigger different memories or thoughts, which inhibit your sleep. Once you’re already having trouble sleeping, you may figure that you might as well start an activity—which only ends up making it harder to get back to sleep.

Many people deal with extended work hours that cut into their time for relaxation and entertainment. As a response, they use late-night hours to pursue those activities instead.


Who Does It Affect?

Overworked people are common victims of revenge bedtime procrastination. A sleep habits survey showed that 30 percent of respondents regularly dealt with productivity issues due to lack of adequate sleep. According to the study, about 30 percent of Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X experience a lack of sleep, impacting their productivity.

This demographic is commonly inundated with messages about “hustle culture” and the importance of “the grind,” contributing to a sense that being well-rested is incompatible with professional success and deliberately depriving yourself of sleep should be seen as a badge of dedication and honor.

According to another study, students and women are especially likely to engage in sleep procrastination. The COVID-19 pandemic has also increased the cases of revenge bedtime procrastination. Working from home has exposed people to persistent demands from bosses, children, family, and friends, without the clear delineation of different spaces.

When you’re overwhelmed with pressure during your typical day, the idea of staying up late for some personal time might be quite appealing.


The Consequences

One thing to note is that revenge bedtime procrastination never helps; it only worsens things. For example, watching television alone at night or browsing social media does little to improve your overall well-being, although it may feel good in the moment. While working late in the night allows you to make some progress, it leaves you quite unproductive the next day.

Ultimately, consistent revenge bedtime procrastination leads to chronic sleep deprivation. Without adequate rest, the body and brain don’t have time to heal, recharge, and process the day’s events. This affects your health and immune system, and it also degrades your memory, thinking, and decision-making.

Lack of adequate sleep can also affect your mental health and lead to difficulty in controlling emotions. This can lead to depression and anxiety. In the worst cases, it can contribute to metabolic disorders, like diabetes, and exacerbate cardiovascular problems.


How to Prevent Revenge Bedtime Procrastination

The only way to prevent revenge bedtime procrastination is to adopt a good sleep routine and create a conducive sleep environment. A nighttime routine will help prevent the impulse to stay up late and, setting a pattern of when you go to bed and when you wake up, even during the weekends, will ensure you have adequate rest.

Avoid drinking coffee in the late afternoon and evening, as it is a stimulant and will keep you alert during the night. Stop using electronic devices or watching the television for at least 30 minutes or more before bed. Also, avoid bringing your work home (even if you’re working from home). At the end of the day, your well-being is more important than finishing one more report.


Get Adequate Sleep

In recent years, it has become relatively easy to ignore bedtime in favor of finishing work or finally finding time for entertainment. However, sleep is vital to your health. Plus, staying up at night to get more work done only makes you less productive the next day. Luckily, it’s easy to overcome revenge bedtime procrastination with the right habits and start enjoying a good night’s sleep.


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